Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"As a Matter of Law, The House Is Haunted"

This month’s issue of the New York State Bar Association Journal features a fun cover story on “the law of Halloween.” Buffalo attorney Daniel B. Moar unearths a collection of devilishly funny Halloween-themed court opinions from across the United States, which run the gamut from personal injuries sustained by flammable costumes, to emotional distress claims arising from haunted-house attractions, to “the constitutional right to insult your neighbors with tombstone displays.” The article is provided as a free sample online to non-subscribers at the Journal website. If you’re pressed for time but are curious about this blog entry’s title, it is a quote from one of the featured cases: Stambovsky v Ackley, 169 A.D.2d 254 (full text via Google Scholar).

North Carolina isn’t featured in Moar’s round-up, but this month has already seen some Halloween decorations cause a bit of emotional distress across the state. In early October, a Salisbury farmer who decorated his lawn with a mangled pair of legs pinned underneath a tractor prompted a 911 call from a concerned motorist. Later that week, another Halloween home decoration caused an emergency call in Charlotte, this time a realistic-looking dummy clinging to a roof gutter. No legal action has been taken in either case, and the Goodson Blogson certainly hopes it stays that way.

For help with locating the cases cited in Moar’s article, or anything else related to researching Halloween and the law, be sure to Ask a Librarian. We'll even be open on Halloween night!